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General News    H3'ed 2/14/16

On This Day in Gun Massacre History

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Martha Rosenberg
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When it comes to gun violence on Valentine's Day, many will think of the 1929 massacre as Al Capone's South Side gang battled with an Irish American gang for organized crime's control of Chicago during the Prohibition Era.

There have been 3 gun massacres on Valentine's Day since 2007
There have been 3 gun massacres on Valentine's Day since 2007
(Image by National Gun Victims Action Council)
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But it has only been eight years since Stephen Phillip Kazmierczak shot 25, killing 5 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL on Valentine's Day. Unlike the 1929 killings of battling mobsters, Kazmierczak's victims were students attending an oceanography class at a state university.

Kazmierczak may have been institutionalized for a year and given a psychological discharge from the Army, but he passed his background check like the Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Umpqua, Roanoke, Fort Hood, Santa Barbara, and Navy Yard mass killers (and most others). In fact, five days before the massacre he bought four firearms at Tony's Guns in Champaign, IL.

According to published sources, Kazmierczak strode into an auditorium-style lecture hall that held 120 students wearing a black T-shirt with the word "Terrorist" written across the chest imposed over an image of an assault rifle. (Was he wearing that T-shirt when Tony's sold him lethal weapons?) He sported a black utility belt with two magazine holsters, a holster for a handgun, three handguns (a 9--19mm Glock 19, a .380 ACP SIG Sauer P232, and a .380 ACP Hi-Point CF380) and eight loaded magazines. He also carried in a 12 gauge Remington Sportsman 48 shotgun concealed in a guitar case. The police recovered 55 un-expended rounds of ammunition from the scene, including two fully loaded magazines containing rounds for a .380 semi-automatic pistol.

Like so many mass shooters, Kazmierczak was mentally disturbed and amassing lethal weapons. He was discharged from the Army in 2001 for lying on his application about his mental illness. Before the murders he was on psychoactive drugs prescribed by a psychiatrist and sent his girlfriend a gun holster and ammunition and a textbook on serial killers. Nice.

The year before Kazmierczak's murders there were two other Valentine's Day spree killers. Sulejman Talovic killed five in Salt Lake City's Trolley Square mall and Vincent Dortch killed three at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Both also breezed through their background checks. In fact, Talovic, who was a Bossnian immigrant, bought his weapon at Sportsman's Fastcash without even showing a second form of identification said investigators police. Like Kazmierczak, he had "gun rights."

US gun violence is a public health epidemic. Tell President Obama to declare a National State of Emergency by signing the petition.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by (more...)

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